Terracotta hut UrnThe ancestors of the Etruscans had lived for centuries by tending crops, herding animals, spinning and weaving cloth, crafting bronze and preparing for war. During the 9th–8th centuries BC, life began to change. The introduction of iron technology and an influx of foreign traders began to stimulate social and political development as well as material culture. Hut villages would soon develop into the cities that are still famous, such as Florence, Pisa, Bologna, and many more now lost.

By the 7th century BC, Etruscan culture had entered its "Orientalizing" phase. Foreign influences from the Near East and Greece now permeated art and society. Traders from Greece, Phoenicia, and Syria came to Italy to exchange luxury goods for metals and ores, making Etruria wealthy in the process. Interaction stimulated not only art and technology, but also society and politics. By the mid-7th century BC, Etruria was rich and powerful.